FIFO workers face mental distress

NEW DATA: Research was undertaken through an anonymous survey of 1124 workers in 10 remote mining and construction sites.
NEW DATA: Research was undertaken through an anonymous survey of 1124 workers in 10 remote mining and construction sites.

More than a quarter of FIFO workers suffer psychological distress.

Research published this week in the Medical Journal of Australia, found high levels of psychological distress were more than two and half times greater among FIFO workers than the Australian population with workers aged 25 – 34.

Those on a 2/1 roster are most at risk.

Other key findings included high levels of stress among workers associated with missing out on special events like family birthdays, daily work tasks, shift rosters and social isolation.

The research is one of the most comprehensive studies undertaken into the prevalence of psychological distress among FIFO workers.

The study was undertaken by Rural and Remote Mental Health through an anonymous survey of 1124 workers in 10 remote mining and construction sites. 

The research is also one of the few studies that has surveyed workers on-site in underground mines, open cut mines and construction sites.

Rural and Remote Mental Health CEO Jennifer Bowers said the stigma related to mental health remained a major issue for mining workers.

“Our research found that workers who felt there was stigma attached to mental health problems on site were the workers at greatest risk of high psychological distress,” Dr Bowers said. 

“We also found that work expectations, relationship and financial pressures were all key contributing factors to high levels of psychological distress.”

She said FIFO mental health challenges require prevention programs and an industry-wide response.

“But on the positive side we’re starting to see the major mining contractors and companies renewing their efforts in delivering comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention programs and support for workers,” Dr Bowers said. 

“Many of the issues are now well understood but it’s the targeted investment that now needs to follow from mining and resource companies to tackle the growing and often complex mental health challenges.”